tv RTE News Six One PBS May 30, 2014 6:00pm-6:31pm PDT
steves: venice's sleek and graceful gondolas are a symbol of the city. from the start, boats were the way to get around among the island communities of the lagoon. to navigate over shifting sandbars, the boats were flat-bottomed, and the captains stood up to see. today's boats still come with gondoliers standing up and no rudder or keel. they're built with a slight curve so that a single oar on the side propels them in a straight line. the art of the gondola survives in the quiet back canals.
in this shop, the workmen, who needed to be good with wood, were traditionally from italy's mountains. that's why they maintain a refreshing alpine feel in this delightful little corner of venice. nearby, in an artisan's workshop, visitors are welcome to observe as he provides for the city's 400 gondoliers. working with traditional tools, graceful oars are carefully planed to be true and properly balanced. and each walnut forcola, the stylized oarlock, is like a sculpture -- handcrafted, one-of-a-kind, and honoring the city's heritage. a gondola ride is a traditional must for romantics. gondolas are moored everywhere. wait till early evening, when the crowds are gone and the light is right.